Commute (time cut) the life sentence for John Franklin Hill

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The following story is that of John Franklin Hill in his own words. In it you'll find a theme not uncommon in many families but tragic nonetheless. In it you'll find a story of despair, confusion, anger, guilt, remorse, regret, plea for forgiveness, and the hope for a new future. Please as you read this keep an open mind from a Godly perspective. John has always admitted his guilt and for 27 years paid the price while acquiring the tools of education, counseling and efforts to give back to the community by sharing his story with at risk youth. If you believe that prison should be a tool not only of punishment but also of reform we, the family and friends of John Franklin Hill, are asking you to sign this petition, asking the parole board to give John a chance at freedom. As a young man he committed a terrible crime and has spent almost three decades paying, learning, and growing from those fleeting moments that changed his life and that of his victim and family forever. Many of you who will see this know John and his heart. We're asking you to share your thoughts of him as well as any job or training opportunities that you can offer if he is released.

A Petition for Commuting the Life Sentence for John Franklin Hill in his own words:
To anyone who may be interested or concerned, my name is John Franklin Hill ADC #93242. I am a 46 year old black male inmate in the Arkansas Department of Corrections. Currently I reside here at the Varner Unit serving a life sentence for first degree murder. I was convicted December 8, 1989 at the tender age of 19. I was 18 when the crime was committed. I took full responsibility for my actions because the situation could have been avoided yet I still acted it out, which was very stupid of me too. My heart goes out to the family of Ms. Tyra McMillian. I know words cannot express enough nor will it help erase the tragic mistake caused by me. There isn’t a day that goes by without me feeling remorseful or regretting what I did. Nevertheless, I most sincerely apologize for causing your pain and lost. Also…allow me to extend my apology to my family and friends as well. I am aware that each of you were deeply saddened and disappointed by what took place. Hopefully, you all will/can forgive me one day too.  

My intentions with this petition is to shed light on my transformation as well as my rehabilitation from the person I was before my incarceration. I use to be this ill-tempered and misguided young boy who was lost with no sense of direction in my life during that time back then. Basically, I want to share my situation with the people so they will understand how my life took a wrong turn for the worst.

I was born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas. I grew up along with my two brothers and two sisters in a single parent home raised by my mother. Like many of our black youths today, I grew up without a father to help install some life lessons from a man’s perspective. I lost my father to a senseless killing while I was an infant child. He was shot and killed by an old drunken man over a dispute about .50 cents. Can you believe that? I heard a lot of wonderful stories about my dad. Sometimes I wonder if he had of been a part of my life growing up maybe life would have been so much different. However, it still doesn’t excuse the tragic mistake I made.

My mother did her best raising 5 children on her own although she remarried and divorced after my father passed away. She provided a roof over our heads and put food on our table daily. It was a struggle through some of those difficult times. But she always believed in each of us and that we would succeed later in life. My mother died of a heart attack in 2005. She was so deeply devastated by what I did. She blamed herself because she felt like it was her fault for not being a better parent. Thankfully, I assured her that it wasn’t anybody’s fault but mine. The situation could have been avoided yet still, I made that choice to get inside of that car. I loved my mother dearly even though we didn’t see eye to eye sometimes. She was an amazing strong black woman who did the best she could. I’m not trying to gain any sympathy nor have a pity party. I just want people to know that I am not nearly close to that angry, lost young boy I was before coming to prison. Mentally and spiritually I have grown. Fortunately, not to boast., I achieved some goals which helped my transition to becoming a much better person over the years of my imprisonment. At the end of this summary there is a list of some of my accomplishments. Included are two of my proudest accomplishments, getting my GED and being able to speak with troubled youth.

I did not live a criminal lifestyle while growing up but I did live my life on the edge most of my teenage years, I got involved with a gang which ignited many other bad choices such as regularly drinking and smoking weed. I got expelled from high school for fighting. It was my third suspension so I did not get the chance to graduate. I had a reputation for fighting, As I stated before my temper used to be bad. There were many challenges and temptations for an average teenager to act out in a negative manner. I was a product of my environment. My irrational behavior had gotten to be so terrible that it caused a strain within the relationship with my mother. By the time, I turned 18…I wouldn’t listen to anybody’s advice. My mom moved out of our house because of me. I constantly disapproved of the men she dated. I guess you can say I was too over protective of her. Basically, me and my siblings were fed up with her being mistreated due to the fact the men often attempted to take advantage of her vulnerability. One of my sisters and I ended up living together. She was 22 with a newborn child at the time. Suddenly my life was going at a rapid pace. I couldn’t maintain a job and attend classes at school because I wanted to hang out and kick it with my friends instead. The gang banging lifestyle in Little Rock was premature back then. I lived for the moment with the mentality of not caring if I lived or died. I’ll be the first to admit that I was filled with anger and frustration because of my unfortunate situation. But this is not a memoir of my life story I just hope the people will be interested and understand my reasons for commuting my life sentence. I strongly believe my time should be commuted because being young as I was and illiterate of the law my mind wasn’t equipped with the knowledge to know all my rights and options throughout all my court appearances. I was misrepresented by an appointed attorney by the name of Thomas Devine, a public defender or a public pretender is the best description. A public pretender’s job description is to assist the state with quick convictions as fast as possible. Mr. Devine is responsible for railroading so many of our young black youth from the past to present. If I’m not mistaken I think he is still representing for the state of Arkansas. During my court procedures, I was informed by Mr. Divine to cop out for 30 years while the prosecutor offered 40 years. As I stated previously I was illiterate to the system, meaning I wasn’t knowledgeable of my rights. I refused to plea bargain because I thought that if you cop out to 30 to 40 years that’s exactly how much time you served. But unknown to my young mind back then, a person would only serve 2/3 of their sentence. I changed my plea from not guilty to guilty during my omnibus hearing. An omnibus hearing consists of plea bargaining so instead of accepting the offer I put my fate in the judge’s hands by going to a bench trial. Another reason why I changed my plea is because I wanted to help by testifying for the two other boys who were much younger than me, 15 and 16 years old. It was completely my fault and they never should’ve been there. Mr. Devine was not efficient in explaining my options. Had I known about serving 2/3 of the sentence back then common sense would have directed me to that choice and I could’ve still testified for my two young codefendants. Unfortunately, it did not turn out that way. There is a high rate of convictions of our black youth by this unlawful system. Mr. Devine is partly responsible because of the case load that piles on his desk. Yes, I made a very terrible mistake back then. But I’ve been in prison more than half of my life and all my adult life. I can honestly say that I am nowhere near the person I used to be and If given a second chance I will live my life productively on a very positive level.  Thank you for your time and I hope you join me in my petition to commute my life sentence.

 

Accomplishments Since My Incarceration

 

Active member of the “Teleconference” project - Varner Unit (reached out to youth) (1993)
Jaycee member - Cummins Unit (1994-1997)
Inmate Council Member - Wrightsville Unit (2003)
Completed S.A.T.P. (Substance Abuse Treatment Program) - Pine Bluff Complex Unit (1995)
Passed GED test - Tucker Maximum Security (1999)
Baptized and studied bible courses (International Career Institute) – Tucker Maximum Security (1998)
Completed Kairos Prison Ministry Spiritual Program #20 – Tucker Medium Security Unit (2006) 
Life Skills Courses – Tucker Medium Security Unit (2006)
Active Member of the Inmate Panel – Tucker Unit (2006-2009)
Completed Communication Skills – East Arkansas Regional Unit (2008)
Life Skills Courses – East Arkansas Regional Unit (2009-2010)
Anger Management – East Arkansas Regional Unit (2013)
Thinking Errors – East Arkansas Regional Unit (2013)
S.A.E.  – East Arkansas Regional (2014)
Active Member of the Inmate Panel – Tucker Unit (2006-2007)

Skills Developed While Incarcerated
The Vinyl Binder Industrial (worked the sealing machines) – Cummins Unit (1992-1993)
Inmate Barber for 12 Years – Cummins Unit, Pine Bluff Unit, Tucker Unit, Wrightsville Unit, and East Arkansas Regional Unit

  

Inmate Panel Reference: Tucker Unit

(Tour Guides) Ms. Sharonda Johnson and Ms. Paula Coleman
Youth Challenge – 3/10/06
Youth Challenge – 3/17/06
Harding University – 3/28/06
U. A. University – 4/6/06
Batesville Community – 4/20/06
Remington College – 5/25/06
Phoenix Family Service – 7/11/06
State Hospital (Sex Offenders) – 9/12/06
Remington College – 9/28/06
Riverdale Youth Center
Conway High School – 3/20/07
Quitman High School – 4/10/07
Lake Hamilton High – 4/20/07
Job Core - 4/27/07
Henderson High School – 5/2/ 07

  

Teleconference Protect Reference  
Mr. Charley and Mrs. Vicki Sandage – 946 Mountain Rd., MT. View, AR 72560,

(870)585-2496
Ms. Carolyn Carlin – (870)585-2496

 



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